Praesidium

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Wedding

Tonight I went to my cousin Ruth's wedding. I don't really do churches, but at least it wasn't too traditional. We got a decent meal too, followed by bar and more buffet nibbles; so while I may have missed out on the Jesus Ball at least I got some kind of party (even if there weren't many people I knew there, I did see two of mum's cousins who'd come over from Toronto). Also Ruth's new husband Adam is a Liverpool fan (he told me the score) so ok by me...

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Portsmouth 2-1 Liverpool

A setback in our pursuit of 3rd, but while it was disappointing our reserves couldn't grab at least a draw it's clear that almost the entire first-team were rested:
Line up: Dudek, Arbeloa, Hyypia, Paletta, Insua, Sissoko (El Zhar 83), Alonso, Zenden, Gonzalez (Pennant 67), Fowler, Bellamy. Subs Not Used: Padelli, Kuyt, Hobbs.

Personally, I was disappointed to see Dudek - I think he's clearly leaving, so maybe Padelli should have been given a chance. Indeed, I'd have used more of the youngsters - not only Insua, but Anderson, Lindfield and Hobbs. I wasn't surprised to see the likes of Alonso, Sissoko and Gonzalez given match time, to try to find their form, but I wouldn't expect them to start against Chelsea - though Bellamy and even Hyypia could.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Illusions of Fairness

Scott Adams needs to take a course in political philosophy...

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool

I was rather disappointed that we didn't get to play the Chelsea that were so lacklustre against Newcastle. As it was, it was our passing in particular that was often off, gifting them several chances and - while we arguably had the better of the second half, as well as winning more corners - we didn't really deserve much more from this game. A victory's still possible, but the lack of an away goal will make it a tall order at Anfield.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Justice and Constructivism

Today I was at a conference on Jerry Cohen's recent work in Reading. Overall, I thought it was quite a good day, although actually of the four speakers, neither Andrew Williams nor Tom Christiano said much new (to me), Michael Otsuka got torn apart by Jerry's reply and Tom Pogge was clearly under-prepared and resorted to asking some interesting, but mostly unoriginal and undeveloped, questions. Still, overall it was an enjoyable experience, and allowed me to meet a few more faces on the circuit.

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Liverpool 2-0 Wigan

Another convincing, if unexciting, victory is just what's needed at this stage. It was ncie to see Kuyt playing higher up the pitch and showing he can score goals - more of that against Chelsea please!

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Something to do in the coming term...

Seminar Bingo!

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Another School Lottery

Bah, no sooner do I hand in my Confirmation than another controversy arises about school lotteries (to add to my previous examples). I might accept "It's a sad day when a child's education is decided by a lottery" as reflecting the fact it's sad anyone has to go to a bad school, when ideally everyone should be able to get a place in a good school. Given the shortage of supply, however, I'm intrigued by the claim that "It's alright saying a lottery is a fair system but it is only a fair system for those whose names get chosen". Thanks to Nick L for pointing this one out.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Liverpool 2-0 Middlesbrough

That's more like it. No need to play great football now, just grind out some results. I'm a bit worried that we have a few tricky fixtures coming up - even Charlton at the end of the season, once they're mathematically relegated no doubt the pressure will be off - but at least Arsenal still have Spurs and Chelsea, so we have a good chance to clinch 3rd.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Confirmation and Word Count Update

I think I've finished my introduction and two chapters for my Confirmation of Status - just over 28,000 words including bibliography (almost as long as the M.Phil thesis I handed in two years ago!)

For the record, here are latest figures:

Introduction: 5,211

1 Democracy as Freedom and Equality: 8,349

2 Maximizing Arguments for Majority Rule: 11,422

3 Using Lotteries to Adjudicate between People: 9,682

4 Lottery-Voting Described: 11,467

5 Minimal Conditions of Social Choice: 19,418

6 Rationality: 9,557

7 Putting Lottery-Voting into Practice: 7,499 (this largely consists of material cut out of ch.4, but repeats some that's still in there)

Conclusion: 0 (yet)

Total: 82,605 (compared to the previous total)

It's chapters three and four I'm submitting, so they're pretty much finished. Chapter one is in a decent state, but two needs some work. Those four are available on WebLearn.

Five-through-seven are still very rough - just disorganized notes really, and even a bit repetitive - so they're not ready for the public yet. Still, it looks like it's the maximum word limit (100,000) rather than minimum (80,000) that will be troubling me!

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Football 'Lotteries'

Yesterday, among the six libraries I visited, I checked out this Celtic story in the Bod. I had to order this book specially, but in fact it was the 1969-70 European Cup second round. Celtic vs Benfica were tied 3-3 AET after the second leg in Portugal (26th Nov 1969). Details of the subsequent coin-toss are on page 96.

Anyway, today I've been looking for examples of penalty shoot outs condemned as 'lotteries'. I know it happens, it's widely on the internet, but I wish I'd kept some newspaper cuttings... So far, I have:

This BBC debate (which amazingly asks 'Is it fair, or is it just a lottery?') and their guide to surviving shoot-outs, which at least puts inverted commas around the "lottery".

After some recent proposals to replace draws with shoot-outs, this article in The Observer asks "If solid, organised defending has kept a talented attacking side at bay for 90 minutes, why insult that achievement with the lottery of a shoot-out?", while this comment on The Guardian blog claims "The suggestion that draws should be concluded by penalties is unjust as it makes football too much of a lottery".

This article on the FA website even seems to put Liverpool's amazing fifth Champions League win down to the 'penalty lottery', rather than an amazing three goal fight-back and top class save.

Interestingly, those in the know already deny the common claim - this site points out penalties replaced literal lotteries while this one suggests skill actually plays a part.

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Pedant's Corner

Is it worrying that I'm tempted to email the BBC to complain about them reporting this:

Manchester City boss Stuart Pearce believes the one-sided nature of the Premiership is going to get worse and hopes the monopoly of the so-called 'big four' teams will not put fans off the game. (Various)

And is it an excuse (for them) that it's reported from elsewhere?

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Monday, April 16, 2007

As Seen on TV

Pitchshifter here. The latest school shooting here.

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Bestiality

Honestly, this is solely for amusement and nothing more sinister...

Seeing this story about a Sudanese man forced to pay a dowry for and 'marry' a goat after having sex with it reminded me of... (UPDATE: Scott Adams now reports this too)

This one - via Scott Adams - about a man found having sex with a dead deer (also: necrophilia), which apparently raised interesting legal questions about whether a dead deer was still legally an animal, and...

This one, emailed to me by Rob, about an Irish man who brought a donkey into his hotel room. Not clear this one is sexual, because he seemed to have some Shrek delusion, but "McCarney was found in the room wearing a latex suit and handcuffs... He was fined €2,000 for bringing the donkey to the room under the Unlawful Accommodation of Donkeys Act 1837. Other charges were dropped due to lack of evidence." (UPDATE: Ok, Rob says it's fictional, but still funny!)

Clearly, sex with animals is not only more common than I previously thought, but also very amusing!

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Relaxing Weekend

I'll blame the fact that the libraries were shut anyway, rather than the nice weather...

Yesterday I went punting (picture nicked from Rob's facebook). It was my first time from the Cherwell Boathouse, which proved to be a nice stretch of the river, past Wolfson and LMH. After that, since we had some food and drink left, we went and sat in the Parks for a couple of hours in front of a game of cricket - not really watching, but getting Rob to explain the game. I finally have a reasonable grasp of what 'silly mid on' means!

Today I played tennis again with my old flatmate Pavel. It was our third full match of the season, and a rather embarrassing 6-0 6-0 6-2 - although I'd claim it was more competitive than that suggests as there were several deuces, especially in the third set (where, having broken his first service game, I lost two break points in his second).

Altogether we were playing for over two hours - although some of that time we were watching Eleni and Nicky - so after that we decided to have a picnic in the gardens behind our flat.

Maybe this is why I ended up doing footnotes - including this - until 11pm tonight!

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Lotteries in Popular Discourse

I'm currently combing through my collection of newspaper cuttings on lotteries, while trying to footnote the relevant section of my thesis. Here's what I've got (more for my record, but if anyone's interested feel free):

'Postcode lotteries' condemned:

S. O’Neill, F. Gibb and H. Brooke (2005) ‘Justice by postcode: the lottery revealedThe Times 68552 (Wed 23/11/05) 1-2 [criminal conviction rates]

Anonymous (2006) ‘The Human Touch: Selecting junior doctors online makes patient care a lottery’ [leading article] The Times (Sat 04/03/06) 23 [selecting doctors]

B. Malkin (2006) ‘Graduate’s case illustrates asylum ‘lottery’, say campaignersSunday Telegraph (23/04/06) 10 [asylum applications]

School/university places:

H. Brighouse (2000) ‘How lotteries could make school admissions a whole lot fairerThe Independent (Fri 08/06/00) [see also CT]

A. Ryan (2000) ‘Oxford BluesThe Guardian (Wed 24/05/00) [following discussion recorded here]

A. Ryan (2007) ‘Alan Ryan’ [regular column] The Times Higher Education Supplement (Fri 19/01/07) (subscription required) [reported in Cherwell]

B. Schwartz (2007) ‘Make college admissions a crapshoot: Top schools are already too selective, so why not draw names from a hat?’ LA Times (Sun 18/03/07) [recently reported by me]

See also BBC.

Brighton Feb-Mar 2007

D. Andalo (2007) ‘Tories attack council's plan to allocate school places by lotteryThe Guardian (Wed 28/02/07) [which, surprisingly, cites The Daily Telegraph!]

R. Garner (2007) ‘Thousands of schools set to follow Brighton with admission lotteriesThe Independent (Thur 01/03/07)

S. Laville and R. Smithers (2007) ‘Council runs lottery for school places’ and ‘War over school boundaries divides BrightonThe Guardian (Thur 01/03/07) pages 1 and 4

G. Paton (2007) ‘Schools can use lotteries for ‘fairer’ admissions, says ministerThe Daily Telegraph (Thur 01/03/07) 15

Also on the blogosphere. And my friend Kieran's letter to The Observer can be found here.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Man City 0-0 Liverpool

Rather like the recent match against Villa, this was a depressingly 'end of season' type affair, which is disappointing - a top four finish looks pretty safe (two wins from the remaining games will guarantee it), but the race with Arsenal for 3rd is still very close.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Two-Stepping

I haven't yet read the debate (1, 2, 3), but I think ‘the two-step of terrific triviality’ is an apt description of this fairly familiar rhetorical move, and one that (in the absence of better suggestions) we should adopt. It always seems to me that those who make this move are trying to have their cake and eat it.

Personally, since I've been recently reading up some stuff on egalitarianism, the one I'm currently annoyed by - which I perceive as a kind of double standard - is the fact that many egalitarians are satisfied with showing equality a value, while they charge sufficientarians with the task of showing sufficiency all that matters.

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Liverpool 1-0 PSV Eindhoven (agg 4-0)

I didn't bother watching this one. To be honest, I thought it'd be pretty dull and, from the sounds of it, it was - a professional performance to complete the job. It's good that we didn't need to call on the likes of Gerrard or Carragher - though I don't know if being on the bench is really a proper rest. The bad news is the loss of Bellamy to a serious injury. He's the only one that gives us pace up front and without him or Garcia's trickery I wonder who can unlock the defences we may face from now on.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Back in Oxford

My departure was somewhat delayed - until after lunch, in fact - by the fact my mum was looking for a new car and ended up driving to Lakeside (for the second day running) before buying one in Colchester on the way home... When we did get going, for some reason, my brother (who probably wouldn't have been up otherwise) decided to come with us, but at least he carried the suitcase - the only useful thing he's done all week! Thankfully there were no notable bank holiday hold ups, so despite leaving after 2pm we were in Oxford by around 5:30. Now I have to get back to work, though apparently we're to be without all internet tomorrow due to work in college.

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Spheres of Equality

This is really just for my own reference, as I feel I may have to read Walzer over the next few weeks.

A review by Norman Daniels in Phil Review can be found here (PDF).

Dworkin's review in NY Review of Books, unfortunately, requires a subscription. There is, however, a letter of reply from Walzer available. Telnet tells me the SSL issue desk has an offprint of this exchange, but I don't know whether that includes the original review or merely replies.

Another review article type thingy is available here (PDF) and finally there's an article on equality since Rawls here (PDF).

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Eggcellent

Yesterday I found a use for the thousands of Nectar points I'd managed to accumulate - not only can they be used at CD-wow (via the Nectar site), but they have a half-price sale!

I ordered
SILVERCHAIR - Young Modern (CD+DVD Deluxe edition)
!!! - Myth Takes
DEFTONES - Saturday Night Wrist
INTERPOL - Turn On The Bright Lights
KOSHEEN - Damage (not even on Amazon.co.uk, but check out that review on the American site - "This is one of few CDs i'd actually purchase")
MACHINE HEAD - The Blackening
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM - Sound Of Silver

For 5,600 points (=£28 on the High Street) which for seven albums, mostly pretty new, is fantastic.

Sadly, I didn't realise at the time you could pre-order. I was going to go back today and add the forthcoming Nine Inch Nails album (and probably some more) but stocks have already run out - despite the sale being advertised as lasting until the 13th April, it's obviously been popular.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Reading 1-2 Liverpool

Not the most impressive performance, but a somewhat rotated team were enough to earn an away win that puts us in a good position for 3rd with Arsenal's shock defeat. With the title race also becoming closer, presumably distracting both Utd and Chelsea from Europe, I guess you could say other results went our way.

Back to our own performance, Arbeloa and Mascherano got another chance to both gel and impress, and I was particularly pleased to see substitutes Pennant and Kuyt combine for the winner. It's nice to see we have game-changing options on the bench, because I've never particularly rated Rafa's substitutions (it seems he prefers to change the starting line up, rather than make tactical switches during the game).

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Lotteries for University Places

Thanks to Conall Boyle for pointing me to another academic - Barry Schwartz, of Swarthmore College - recommending the allocation of university places by lottery.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

PSV Eindhoven 0-3 Liverpool

I always get nervous when the commentators' pre-match build-up focuses on 'how many?' rather than 'who will win?' - tonight one actually compared this to England v Andorra! Thankfully, it turned out I needn't have worried. PSV - hampered by further injuries - are a far cry from the team that almost beat AC Milan to face us in the 2005 final, or even the team that eliminated Arsenal in the previous round.

We controlled most of the game, and goals from Gerrard, Riise and Crouch were all we deserved. I was hoping a late fourth would really kill things, but sadly it wasn't to be. In fact, we started playing rather raggardly, and did concede chances - not helped by losing Aurelio after Riise had already left the pitch. That's a blow, because it was another impressive performance (following his two assists versus Arsenal) and early reports suggest we may miss him for the rest of the season. Hurry back back Harry Kewell...

Otherwise, we know more than anyone about three goal comebacks, but the away goals should pretty much seal this. Kuyt's late (deliberate?) booking rules him out of the return, but I wouldn't be surprised to see stars rested and the likes of Fowler, Zenden and Hyypia get a game.

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